May 30, 2020
We generally think of flies as being attracted to gross stuff, but that isn't always the case. According to VMNH Executive Director Dr. Joe Keiper, this fly belongs to the family Conopidae and is likely a member of the genus Zodion. This family is commonly referred to as the "thick-headed flies" (which seems a little mean). There are about 800 species within this family, and many of them are mimics that resemble wasps or bees.
There are a couple of things that all members of Conopidae have in common. For one, they like to visit flowers to lap up the sweet nectar, just like the pictured fly is doing. Two, their larvae are all internal parasites, usually on bees and wasps! When it comes time to lay eggs, the female fly will intercept a bee or wasp and inject her eggs between the segments of the host's abdomen. You'll notice that the pictured fly has a sort of "hooked" abdomen; apparently this works a bit like a can opener and makes it easier to pry the host's segments apart! When you see this little fellow peacefully sipping nectar inside a flower, it just proves that you should never underestimate the quiet ones. #BenInNature
About this post: Social distancing can be difficult, but the next few weeks present a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. While he is working from home, Administrator of Science Ben Williams is venturing outdoors each day to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world.
This post brought to you by VMNH Supporters Janet and Richard Ashby.
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